We find it incredibly difficult not to have a story.
So we wrap stories around what we don’t understand, around anything seems incomplete, around anything mysterious.
Which means we’re always making up stories about other people, whose actions we can see but whose inner experience we can never fully know. Instead of leaving ourselves in the dark, we invent intentions, thoughts, purposes and feelings on behalf of others – whatever will give us a coherent story to which we can respond.
And then we forget that it’s a story at all.
And because it’s our story and not theirs, it should be no wonder that it contains endless assumptions, projections, speculations, inventions, judgements – many of which will be coherent but inaccurate.
And then no wonder that we can have such a difficult time getting along.
One approach to all this? Cling more and more tightly to your story. Don’t look for or let anything in that might blow it apart.
Another? Adopt the radical move of dropping all your stories and listening for a while.
But when you’re prepared to treat another person, another team, another group, another community as mysterious enough, perhaps you’ll discover that what’s going on is way different from what you thought.
More importantly, you’ll give yourself a way of responding that actually meets the other person, sees them, instead of missing them by a mile.